The Fashion Island hotel in Newport Beach, California, exuded Hollywood glamor at the grand opening of the Newport Beach Film Festival, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. The experience was nothing short of astounding, as I had the opportunity to stay at this luxurious hotel, along with many of the filmmakers and their cast members who attended the annual festival.
The hotel, located in the heart of Newport Beach, was first opened in 1986 and has gone through several hands of ownership, but the latest rendition will not disappoint, with its stylish, retro-California vibe
Offering city, pool and coastal views, the hotel features 295 beautifully appointed guest rooms and suites that were recently revamped to reflect the chic coastal lifestyle and beachside culture. The hotel boasts more than 23,000 square feet of event space, the largest ballroom in Newport Beach that hosts many of the area’s high-profile galas, health spa, fitness center and resort-style pool.
A true haven is the property’s Island Club on the 20th floor with amazing views of the Pacific coastline and Newport Harbor. The exclusive “retreat” offers club guests daily continental breakfast, light snacks in the evenings and beer and wine during its “Wine Down” hour. Club members also receive high speed internet access, entry to the spa’s relaxation lounge and eucalyptus steam room, and personal shopping services at the Fashion Island Mall.
The outdoor fashion center features the best in luxury brand names including Balenciaga, Chanel, Neiman Marcus, St. John and Van Cleef & Arpels and more. However, for those not into retail therapy, perhaps golf might be on the agenda at the world class Pelican Hill Golf Club or Oak Creek Golf Club, both nearby.
The property’s Oak Grill Restaurant features a menu inspired by global culinary influences and offers curated wine, beer and spirits programs. Guests may dine alfresco on the outdoor deck or fireside lounge, with two private dining rooms also available. Highlights of the menu include cauliflower hummus, white wine steamed clams, togarashi-crusted ahi sandwich, Chilean sea bass, and of course, one can never go wrong with the classic burger.
The festivals VIP opening night, pre-red-carpet reception was held at the hotel’s Aqua Lounge, where guests mixed and mingled around the pool area, sipped champagne provided by event sponsor Celebrity Cruises, and nibbled on canapés. After the kick-off, guests were shuttled over to the Regal Edwards Big Newport Cinemas for the opening night screening of “Luce” that stars Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Kelvin Harrison Jr., and Tim Roth, some of whom were in attendance on the evening.
After the screening, guests partied the night away at Fashion Island, where some of Orange County’s award-winning dining establishments served up their best dishes. Guests also enjoyed a hosted bar by Tito’s Vodka, Cape Line and Peroni, and were treated to a special musical performance by the band Side Deal, featuring Grammy winner Charlie Colin (Train), multi-platinum artists Stan Frazier and Murphy Karges (Sugar Ray), Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers) and the Pawn Shop Kings (Rolling Stone Magazine’s “New Bands to Watch”).
The Newport Beach Film Festival, held from April 25 to May 2, 2019, this year explored the theme of “The Power of Ideas,” showcased over 350 films from 50 countries, and hosted eight days of screenings, a red carpet gala and special events, in the posh Fashion Island setting.
One thing is for sure – Tinseltown glamour is definitely alive and thriving in the OC! ■